Fr. Harry Winter, OMI: Pentecost and Immigration: Ecumenism and Dialogue Essential

by Harry Winter, OMI, Coordinator, Ministry of Mission, Unity and Dialogue, USA Province

St. Pat-Houston-Pentecost window - Copy

Pentecost window from the former Oblate Parish, St. Patrick’s in Houston, TX.

The celebration of Pentecost reminds many Christians of our disunity, and how the Holy Spirit is reuniting the Christian Churches.  We also credit the Holy Spirit for helping us work with people of other Faiths, and People of Good Will, for Justice.

Only if Christians are united, following the lead of the Holy Spirit, can we hope to effectively assist immigrants, especially in the promotion of family life for those whose families have been torn apart.  In his Apostolic Letter “The Joy of Love,” Pope Francis begs clergy to work with skilled laity to address the fragmentation of the family today (204).  Let us not reinvent the wheel by thinking that vowed Oblates should address the challenge of migrants by ourselves.  Our Oblate Associates, our Oblate Partners, our Honorary Oblates all possess resources that we need to bring together.  The Holy Spirit is ready to help clergy and laity minister to migrants, each in their own sphere.

Don’t the gifts of the Holy Spirit help us to work with so many others who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and share the grace of one baptism? Evangelical Protestant groups such as World Vision are eager to work with Catholics.  The Eastern Orthodox, led by Patriarchs Bartholomew and Kirill, are begging us to cooperate.  The Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, signed in Cuba on Feb. 12, 2016, begs us to work together to lessen the suffering of migrants and refugees in the Middle East (8-13, 17-21).

Strengthened by the grace of the Holy Spirit, let us not be afraid to make coalitions with groups we may not usually work with.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) disagrees with Catholicism on many issues, but every so often, there arises an issue where we find common ground.  May Pentecost open our eyes to these allies for assisting migrants.

When our superior general spoke to us from Rome for our convocation (April 23, 2016), he gave two examples, in Turkmenistan, and Western Sahara, where moderate Muslims and Christians are working together. Also many of our Jewish elder brothers and sisters are skilled in working with migrants.

Yes, at first it will require a little more time and energy to seek our allies.  But in the long run, we will be much more effective if we work with others rather than attempting to do everything by ourselves.  As Oblates celebrate the 200th anniversary of our founding, during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us beg the Holy Spirit of unity, of daring, and of courage, to lead us. Only by working with others, can Oblates significantly lessen the suffering of immigrants.